Monday, January 7, 2013

Road Trip 1 (Vigan/Laoag/Pagudpud) - How much did I spend on this Road Trip?

Seeing and conquering northern Luzon was one of my ardent dreams since I learned how to drive. I know that this is no easy feat even for seasoned drivers. Because of this, I need to make sure that the most important member of the family should be well prepared and ready for the rigorous travel. I don't speak about my wife or my kids. I'm speaking about the family car.

It is worth mentioning that it took us 9 hours to reach Vigan City last Christmas day with 2 stop-overs at NLEX for breakfast and at Rosario, La Union for lunch while returning back to Manila from Laoag City, it was a grueling 15 hours drive due to traffic at La Union and Pangasinan provinces. Interestingly enough, we were caught with December truck ban in Manila thus countless of slow moving trucks were traversing NLEX with us on our way back home thereby increasing our travel time.

This post will tackle the expenses on exploring northern Luzon by car.


The breakdown of fixed expenses are as follows:

* NLEX: 215 pesos (2 way) = 430 pesos
* SCTex (Dau to Tarlac): 104 pesos (2 way) = 208 pesos

For fuel, my Nissan Grand Livina clocked 1,301 kms for 4D/3N round-trip (Manila - Vigan - Laoag - Pagudpud - Laoag - Vigan - Manila). The total odometer reading includes the joy ride and quick visit to interesting places around those areas. After re-fueling for several times, I was able to determine my fuel consumption. Our family car consumed around 13 kpl mixed hi-way and city driving. Thus, 1301 kms/13 kpl = around 100 liters of unleaded fuel. At that time, the price within MM of unleaded fuel was slightly more than 50 pesos per liter while it reached more than 52 pesos as you go farther away from Manila. To average my fuel expenses I would use 51 pesos per liter of unleaded fuel.

* My total fuel expenses = 5,100 pesos

The breakdown of variable expenses are as follows:

* Hotel accommodation at My Vigan Home Hotel for 1 night stay at family room for 5 person: 3,750 pesos

* Hotel accommodation at Isabel Suites Laoag City for 2 nights stay at 2 twin rooms with extra bed (5 people):  1400 pesos (2 rooms) + 350 pesos extra bed = 3,150 pesos (2 nights) = 6,300 pesos

I booked hotels with complimentary breakfasts so I need to spend only for lunch, snack and dinner. Meal expenses would depend mainly on where you 'd dine.

Bangui Windmill, Burgos

Don't forget the souvenir items. Remember, you don't know whether you'll be able to visit these places again so it is better to buy something that would remind you of your travel to these places. Plus, don't forget the "pasalubongs" and cheap local products such as garlic, broom and local vinegar. In our case, we purchased:

Ref Magnets at Vigan City: 50 pesos (2 pieces) = 100 pesos 
Bangui Windmill replica: 80 pesos
1.5 liter (vinegar) Sukang Iloko: 35 pesos
Baguio Walis  Tambo (Broom) : 100 pesos
Bawang (Garlic): 40 pesos (2 lengths): 80 pesos
Island Souvenir T-shirts at Vigan City: 400 pesos (5 pieces) = 2,000 pesos

So you think it is over? Not Yet! Lest you forget the local delicacies such as:

Vigan Empanada: 30 pesos (4 pieces) = 120 pesos
Small Cornicks: 3 packs for 100 pesos
Tinubong (glutinous rice cooked inside a bamboo): 3 pieces for 100 pesos
My favorite, Collette Buko Pie at Rosario, La union: 150 pesos
Otap from Collette also: 50 pesos

Local dishes such as Bagnet / Pakbet / Poqui Poqui Balls / etc. I would safely assume that you could allocate 200 pesos per head for each meal. Fancy drinks not included. Stick with soft drink, iced tea or plain water. Better yet, bring bottled water with you so as to avoid ordering those expensive drinks.

Don't forget the side expenses such as:

Vigan Calesa Tour (1 hour): 150 pesos
Burgos Museum at Vigan City: 20 pesos (5 persons) = 100 pesos
Vigan Bell Tower (donation): 20 pesos
Total tips for hotel room boys: 200 pesos
Malacanang of the North: 30 pesos (5 persons) = 150 pesos


If you are traveling with your family, be prepared for any eventuality. It is safer to bring extra funds for emergency expenses. My wife had the  board and lodging amount while I got the transportation and emergency fund. When my rear right tire blew, I knew that I would be spending a big part of my emergency fund for a replacement tire. The new tire cost me a whopping 4,000 pesos at Vigan City.

Bring meds as well. Though drugstores can be found in major cities across northern Luzon; it is better to have meds and has no need for them rather than the opposite. I was downed with cough and cold while my youngest was having stomach pain; fortunately, my wife brought some emergency meds thus; my son and I were able to recuperate during our road trip.

In addition, spare some amount for stop-overs expenses especially when you have kids with you.

I won't sum up our total expenses anymore since my aim is simply to give a rough estimate for a family trip to northern Luzon by private car; I am sure that you'd definitely have different travel itinerary that suits your needs. In fact, if you'll use a diesel vehicle then the fuel cost will be lower.

Finally, if you have kids with you, aside from gadgets, don't ever forget to bring tons of snacks and drinks while traveling. A cooler would be of great help. Otherwise, tension and stress can easily flare up and destroy the vacation mood, trust me on this, lol.

To check our complete travel journal: Road Trip to Northern Luzon (Vigan/Laoag/Pagudpud)